This post originally began as a description of service and how I have learned through the shift I spent this year at the Men’s shelter. But there is a greater lesson at work, here. I humbly acknowledge this, and will continue to amend this post as the lesson works in me.
You’ll recall that in the past I’ve written that I’ve learned that it’s really important to let others work in their gifts – especially when they’re helping. This last weekend, I got to see from the receiving side what happens when this isn’t put into action.
We were working a different shift at the Men’s Shelter this year – the Saturday night shift. We’d heard that the guys usually come in pretty hungry, since they only have had breakfast (at the shelter) and a lunch (from another facility). So it’s been a typical thing for folks from our church to bring a few pizzas and bottles of soda for the guys. We were glad to do our share and pitch in. And in a fashion typical of our both our church and our ethnic heritage, we brought more than enough, plus a bunch more, just in case. Plus ways to make it all welcoming and nice-looking.
Let me just take a moment aside to mention that this type of service isn’t easy for us to do. Often the guys have raging colds, and just as often some virus or germ-thing gets passed on. Often you miss church the next morning because you’re just beat from the emotional effort of tuning in to, and caring for, this bunch of un-lovables, some of whom are mentally ill. Some people and stories haunt you for months, afterward.
Back to our story: We arrived with all this stuff in-hand (and more trips to the car to be made), along with the myriad ingredients for some really great green salad that my wife lovingly made for assembly there…
And entered with our armloads of contributions offered in love; but were bewildered to find a big crowd in the kitchen area, where there should have been only the three of us who’d just arrived. A group of six or seven people from a completely different denomination had brought a bunch of stuff.
And an attitude. A joy-killing attitude. A really serious, hurtful one.
I choose to learn from this. I gratefully acknowledge their contribution. And I humbly hold them up to God so that he may bless them. I’ll just ask: Is it not enough to know that the guys ate like kings that night?
I’m choosing as of right now to look beyond their theft of the ‘joy of service’ from our evening; which turned it into an evening of chores. All the sacrifices we made to be there (and are still making – sneeze!) are begging for my attention, begging for me to judge, because of them. But right now, I am choosing to not do so.
I am choosing instead to look beyond, and to ask God’s blessing once again on that night. With God, this has no power.
And so, this becomes a lesson’s reinforcement for me, as well as a lesson in attitude adjustment as I crafted this post. I must remember to let people help in whatever capacity they are given to do so.
God works through all things, even those we might deem as minor contributions.